Last Saturday’s Perplexing Ambiguity

There’s a wonderful video clip from The Onion about the launch of the revolutionary MacBook Wheel, a keyboard-less laptop with a “sleek, touch-sensitive click wheel.” The deadpan demonstration is spot-on. “Everything is just a few hundred clicks away.”

The faux news anchor signs off with this gem: “It remains to be seen if the Wheel will catch on in the business world, where people use computers for actual work, and not just dicking around.”

This, sadly, sums up a recent trend in my life, threatening to follow me deeper into 2009. You know, just dicking around.

What could be a better example than me setting up a Twitter account. I’ve not reached the point of one the folks I “follow” who churns out dozens of these ephemeral announcements per sitting. I’ll not name names, but, mercy, after the kids have been sent off to school and once that second (or is it the fifteenth?) cup of coffee kicks in, look out!

I first became intrigued with Twitter when Jennifer Saylor, an Asheville blogger I always read, mentioned she’d begun to use Twitter. I’d read her “tweets” (as they’re called), and understood the appeal. With a tiny window of 140 characters people post little snippets of whatever. A movie you just got out of and hated. You want to tell the world that you’ve just hit upon a way to prove the The Riemann Hypothesis. Or maybe you just want to let people know you’re watching the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen. With my iPhone I’ve learned to send web links, map locations, and photos. If this sounds like an enormous waste of time (yep), and way too warm and fuzzy (lord-o-mercy, it can be), let me remind you that people like Sam Lerma Twitter. He’s a news shooter (video), and I get these great postings to my iPhone about police stand-offs, SWAT teams lobbying gas grenades, and all that manner of human drama — sometimes with a photo (from his iPhone) or a GPS-generated link via Google maps to the site of the excitement. Local journalist and activist Greg Harman sends out links to his most recently published stories. Also, Michael Verdi used his Twitter feed to update what was happening on his 24 Artists in 24 Hours live video podcast he was running in conjunction with the Jump-Start Performance Company’s annual Performance Party.

Speaking of which, congratulations, Michael. I was tuning in off and on during the day. I mean it was unseasonably warm Saturday, and really I had to dust off my bike and hit the Mission Trail for a couple of hours. But I was glad I got to see work by Wreck & Salvage, Michelle Ellsworth, Ryanne Hodson & Jay Dedman, Luis Carlos Barragán Castro, and so many others. I only wish more people in the San Antonio art world as well as the film community were tuned into the live feed.

Actually, I believe Verdi is working on uploading the archived video material to the site.

For those who couldn’t be bothered to join me, you missed a great show. Well, half great, and half kind of lame. But it’s a variety show. 24 performances. Not all are going to grab you. But where else can you go in San Antonio where, for a suggested 5 dollar donation, you can see over four hours of some of the best theater, music, dance, and performance art this city has to offer?

What you missed?

Local boy made good, Jesse Borrego. You’ve seen him in ER, 24, Con Air, Blood in Blood Out, and Dexter. I don’t believe I’ve seen him dance since I was a kid watching the TV show Fame. But he came out and got back in touch with his dance roots and gave us a fluid run of stylized tai chi movements while a Gil Scott-Heron (“the first thing I want to say is, mandate, my ass!”) song played.

Later in the evening, Dos Generaciones hit the stage. They are associated with the Conjunto Heritage Taller, a nonprofit organization committed to roots conjunto music. Rudy Lopez, the older gent, played guitar. And Robert Casillas, who’s finally getting too old to be called a child prodigy, accompanied on accordion. As Robert was wrestling with an uncooperative microphone, Jesse Borrego leaped out from the wings and did some fast roadie work adjusting the microphone. San Antonians know that the whole Borrego clan are no strangers to performing music on stage — Conjunto Borrego is dad, Jesse, brother James, and sister Gloria.

And, of course, there were the URBAN-15 dance and drum ensemble. They closed down the second act. One of the three pieces from Saturday night they’ll be performing in Washington DC for the Obama Inauguration (more on that later).


There was also a work in progress by the brilliant writer / performance artist Doyle Avant. Aerial dance by Shimi. Annele and Monessa reprising the Methane Sisters. Joel Settles giving us a performance of a meth-head who had just wandered in from a long walk up from Las Palmas mall on the west-side. The fabulous Jade Esteban Estrada hit the boards in heavy adrenaline in an all white Nancy Sinatra drag ensemble (white, from wig down to go-go boots). Marisela Barrera and Anna de Luna, brilliant as always, delved into a skit where a vato lothario is romancing the current Miss Southtown (a drag queen beauty contest). What could be sweeter than watching the climax — the perplexing ambiguity of simulated sex between a woman playing a man and a woman playing a man dressed as a woman!



George and Catherine Cisneros are two of my favorite people. They create art (photography, prints, video, dance, music, sculpture, multi-media, and on and on), both as individuals and as a collaborative couple. But they also run one of the more interesting and innovative non-profit arts and cultural centers around. URBAN-15 is best known for their Brazilian Carnival-styled celebratory dance and drum ensembles. They rock — even in sequins and whilst carrying plastic pink flamingos. And they have been selected by the in-coming Obama administration to perform at the inauguration. George and Catherine and their drummers and dancers are no strangers to performing for US presidential inaugurations. But what make this year different is that because, during the campaign, Obama refused corporate sponsorships, the funding is tight for inaugural entertainment. In short, Urban-15 needs to pay their way.

(Click for larger image.)

They are going. That’s a given. The bus has been chartered, rooms booked. But because the San Antonio city coffers are apparently also depleted, they are asking for direct funding. I’m a huge fan of URBAN-15, but my poverty keeps me from donating more than the paltry minimum 25 bucks via their web site.

Help, if you can.

I only wish there was room on the bus for me. Oh, well. They will be performing a dance which Catherine describes as a blessing, a hybrid of ancient non-denominational gestures. Fairly secular, as blessings go, but most important, it ain’t Rick Warren.

Give money to URBAN-15. They kick ass. They promote artistic, ethnic, gender, and cultural diversity. And, again, they are not Rick Warren.

Donate now, it’s tax deducible.


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